After nearly eight months of diving inactivity, I decided to hop on a plane to Cozumel for a scuba diving trip. I’ve wanted to go on a scuba trip for a while now, but I’ve been held back by the fact that I don’t have any scuba diver friends. However, seeing that international travel in the near future seems a distant possibility (due to my on-going US work visa application), I decided to just go on a solo trip. Honestly, if I keep waiting for someone to go with me, I’ll never end up going. Besides, traveling solo allows you to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There’s a feeling of freedom that I really enjoy.
Getting my Advanced Open Water certification
When I say I’m an “advanced” scuba diver people look at me and think I’ve had years upon years of diving experience, but the truth is, I’ve only logged just under 20 dives! The Advanced Open Water course is designed so that it can be taken right after getting the Open Water certification. In my case, I only had two dives after my Open Water. Not only am I an inexperienced scuba diver, but the fact that I haven’t been diving in more than half a year made me really nervous, but it was exactly for this reason that I wanted to do the AOW course. Taking more scuba lessons eased me back into scuba diving, and I also developed useful scuba kills.
In order to complete the AOW course, students are required to take five adventure dives—basically a fancy term for a specialized type of diving. For instance, I took the Deep Diving and Navigation Diving (which were mandatory), as well as Peak Buoyancy Performance, Night Diving and Drift Diving. BTW, this is probably a great time to give a shout out to Blue Magic Scuba, who I completed my AOW course with. Not only are they extremely responsive via email, but they also welcomed me with open arms. They basically said, “Blue Magic Scuba is your home while you are here” and made me feel extremely welcome. My AOW instructor, Cris, was also very friendly and knowledgable. 10/10 would recommend!
After completing my AOW certification, I stayed to do three more days of two-tank diving, thus making it five days of diving in a row. To non-divers, five days of scuba diving might sound like too long, but honestly I wish I had stayed longer. The feeling of being in the water, drifting along with the current, watching as the fish pass by…it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far. Not only is scuba diving so relaxing and refreshing, but it also gives you a great appreciation for marine life.
On my first boat dive, I was lucky enough to see a spotted eagle ray. If you don’t know what an eagle ray is, look it up. They are majestic creatures. Throughout the whole trip, I also saw a sea turtles, nurse sharks, lobsters, crabs, moray eels, sea snakes, octopus, and lots different types of fish.
If I had to pick, I would say that out of all the dive sites we visited, hands down my favorite was Palancar Gardens. The coral reefs were plentiful and it was my first time scuba diving through arches and small caves. At one point, we had to dive underneath this narrow arch-like structure. Exactly to our left was a gigantic lobster, and I swear I thought it was waiting to jump at me. There was so much marine life there; we saw an eagle ray towards the end, a nurse shark passing by, two gigantic lobsters hanging out, a toadfish, sea turtles, as well as many other fish.
A did a night dive for my AOW certification, and I’m not going to lie—I was kind of terrified. It’s pitch black and the only source of light you have is from the flashlight you’re holding. With night diving, because your vision is limited, you have to be a lot more aware of your surroundings or else risk destroying coral reefs around you. However, you do get to see a lot of different marine life at night as some species hunt in the night. We saw a couple of octopus, sea urchins, moray eels and as well as a sting ray.
All in all, I spent six days in Cozumel, five of which were spent diving. To non-scuba divers, five days of diving might sound boring, but I honestly wish I had spent more time there. Not only were the dive sites very rich and vibrant, but the island itself is such a cute and chill island. Cozumel, I’ll be back!